Getting Brexit done and why we should be confident of prosperity - Peterborough MP Paul Bristow
Last Friday, my first vote in the House of Commons was to get Brexit done. We passed the new Withdrawal Agreement Bill with a clear majority at its first stage, writes MP for Peterborough Paul Bristow in his weekly column.
Unlike the events of the autumn, when Labour MPs – including Peterborough’s – threw the timetable for the bill into chaos, there can be no delay during the bill’s remaining stages in January.
This is the difference that a Conservative majority in Parliament makes. We will leave the European Union next month, without fuss and without bother.
Incredibly, despite the election result, Labour MPs were still voted against Brexit. They have learnt nothing from their defeat. Many continued to argue that the democratic decision of the country should be overturned.
Thankfully, 365 Conservative MPs can now outvote them. My new colleagues come from across the country, from Redcar to Ynys Môn. We are a genuinely national party again, reflecting the diversity of the country. It was a proud moment to walk through the ‘Aye’ lobby with them and break the Brexit deadlock.
In 2016, I campaigned for the clear Leave vote in Peterborough. I know how much it mattered to so many. I am now the first MP for our city both willing and able to represent the view of my constituents. My Conservative predecessor, Stewart Jackson, had got the process underway. He was entirely willing but he never got the chance to represent Peterborough in the crunch votes. Instead, we were stuck with two MPs in succession who defied this city’s opinion. The symbolism of a Labour MP voting against Brexit while on early release from prison and wearing an ankle tag will take some time to forget. It may take longer still to be forgiven.
What’s certain is that, as a country and a city, we can now move on.
We can focus on the other things that matter, those other priorities that Brexit has tended to overshadow, but which affect everyone’s day-to-day lives. We can also forge new, positive relationships with the EU and countries around the world.
The morning after the election, Boris Johnson stood in front of that famous door in Downing Street and spoke of a moment of national reconciliation. He directly addressed those who wanted to remain in the EU, saying: “I want you to know that we in this one nation conservative government will never ignore your good and positive feelings of warmth and sympathy towards the other nations of Europe.
“Because now is the moment – precisely as we leave the EU – to let those natural feelings find renewed expression in building a new partnership, which is one of the great projects for next year.”
I hope the Prime Minister’s words about healing and reconciliation will be reciprocated.
At Christmas, a season of peace and goodwill, it’s particularly appropriate that the partisan divisions of the last few years are set aside. As we enjoy time with our families, we can all appreciate an overdue break from political arguments. The question has been answered. A page in our history has been turned. And as we look forward to a new year, we can do so confident of prosperity and growth ahead.